Bik­ing to break the stigma of dementia

Napier Courier - - NEWS -

Once you’re di­ag­nosed with dementia, you can no longer en­joy life. Greg Kelly dis­agrees.

He was di­ag­nosed with early on­set dementia at 59 and now he’s chal­leng­ing the stigma and rais­ing aware­ness of the dis­ease which af­fects more than 60,000 peo­ple in New Zealand.

He’s do­ing this by rid­ing a Har­ley David­son across Aotearoa, Aus­tralia and the US.

Greg, oth­er­wise known as Kell, ar­rived in New Zealand just in time for World Alzheimer’s Aware­ness Month.

He rode into Napier last Wed­nes­day morn­ing and at­tended a lunch at Dementia Hawke’s Bay in Napier, where he made a 30-minute pre­sen­ta­tion to staff and club mem­bers, and showed a 10-minute doc­u­men­tary on his trip.

Called Kell’s Ride For a Cure, by El­iz­a­beth McLeish, it was re­cently cho­sen as one of two win­ners at the Syd­ney Lift Off Fes­ti­val and was screened at the Lon­don Lift Off Fes­ti­val. El­iz­a­beth is is also cre­at­ing a fea­ture-length doc­u­men­tary which will cover his New Zealand and Amer­i­can trips as well.

“I want to put a spot­light on this dis­ease and raise aware­ness of younger on­set dementia be­cause this is not a dis­ease just for the very old,” Greg says. “There are peo­ple as young as 29 with it and it is the sec­ond high­est killer in Aus­tralia, and the third high­est in the USA and New Zealand.”

Al­though dementia is of­ten thought to be an older per­son’s dis­ease, about five per cent of peo­ple with it are un­der the age of 65 when their symp­toms be­gin to emerge.

“I was di­ag­nosed with on­set dementia in Jan­uary 2016 at the age of 59. They told me I have had it for a num­ber of years but was mis­di­ag­nosed with hav­ing de­pres­sion back as far as 2009, as hap­pens so many times with this dis­ease.”

Since dementia is much less com­mon in younger peo­ple, there are of­ten chal­lenges in get­ting a di­ag­no­sis, with GPs more likely to pin symp­toms to con­di­tions like de­pres­sion or anx­i­ety.

Greg’s ride hopes to change this norm, to en­sure that more peo­ple are aware of how younger on­set dementia can af­fect peo­ple and to help them get a di­ag­no­sis, along with strong sup­port.

He de­parted for Welling­ton Fri­day morn­ing and was be es­corted into the cap­i­tal by city’s Har­ley’s Own­ers Group (HOGS).

Greg Kelly was di­ag­nosed with early on­set dementia and is rais­ing aware­ness of the dis­ease by rid­ing a Har­ley David­son across Aotearoa, Aus­tralia and the US.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.